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ERP Systems with industry focus: To each his own

The market for ERP systems is varied, the range of products confusing. Therefore, it is important to include one's own company strategy when selecting a new system. In addition, many vendors focus on special industries.

Most ERP systems specialise on machine and plant manufacture. Accordingly, they put higher stress on capacity planning, visualisation as well as change management than ERP systems specialising on industries with serial production. 

ERP Systems for Machine and Plant Manufacture

One reason: Project management is one of the core competences in machine and plant manufacturing. Products and services of this industry have a much stronger project characteristic than the serial products of, for example, the automotive or textile industries. However, in the face of increasingly short product life cycles, a growing cost orientation and the focus on adherence to due-dates, project management also becomes more and more important in other industries.

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Support of specific functions by ERP systems

Independent of their industry focus, ERP systems are characterised by great differences where single functions are concerned. Thus, there is quite often a function for single project capacity planning because it is often required and no great challenge technically. More complex functions, in contrast, like visualisation via netplan or change management are less often to be found. This is at least true for ERP systems not specialising on plant manufacturing.

The function variants management yields a different picture. ERP systems with a clear focus on the textile industry, for example, support this function much more frequently than ERP systems for machine and plant manufacturers or the automotive industry. A product and variants configurator, in contrast, is more often contained in ERP systems for machine and plant manufacturing.

The mapping of by-products is an additional distinctive characteristic. Apart from by-products generating turnovers, there are also by-products which only incur costs, e.g. waste, waste heat and waste water.

Both functions are most frequently contained in solutions for the food and process industry (incl. chemical and pharmaceutical industries). Within this group of ERP systems the function "management of side-products" is supported by ca. 90%, while the possibility to plan by-products is only offered by ca. 66%

ERP Systems with industry focus

The reasons for a clear industry focus: On the one hand, companies want more customer individuality, on the other hand they want a homogenous and standardised software infrastructure. At the same time, ERP vendors want to keep customising efforts during implementation as low as possible. This causes a clear verticalisation of the ERP market.

Thus, two different strategies can be observed on the market. Part of the ERP vendors "truly" specialise on one industry. These ERP systems concentrate on a clearly defined target group. The larger ERP vendors, like SAP or Microsoft, on the other hand use a partner strategy in order to serve different industries. These ERP systems offer a more or less broad functional scope for a broad target group in the standard. The resellers (Value Added Resellers, VAR) add industry-specific functions according to their own specialties.

Thanks to this detour via the VARs, these ERP systems can be found in many different industries and they support the specific business processes as well as the specialised ERP vendors.

In fact, the market supplies ERP systems for almost all industry-specific requirements. However, ERP users from middle sized companies still face the challenge to find their way in a diverse and not very transparent tangle of solutions.

Therefore, it is strongly recommended to choose a methodically sound approach. The requirements should be determined systematically and the different ERP system alternatives should be analysed on this basis.


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